Things That Matter

Federal Judge Esther Salas Speaks About Law Protecting Judges’ Personal Information In Son’s Honor

Update Nov. 25

Judge Esther Salas’ son Daniel’s memory has been honored with a law to prevent the same tragedy. Daniel was the victim of premeditated violence targeting his mother for her work as a federal judge.

Judge Esther Salas gave an emotional speech to recognize Daniel’s Law.

Daniel was killed by a deranged attorney who was targeting his mother, a federal judge. The attorney was able to find the judge’s address as a matter of public record. Daniel’s Law will prevent that from happening.

On Nov 20, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill to make Daniel’s Law a reality. The law makes it a punishable crime to publish a the personal information of judges, including address and phone numbers.

“I would want people to know about my Daniel that he always put others before himself, and that’s why I know he would want me to do what I’m doing now because he would want others to be protected,” Salas told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Monday.

She added: “He was, for us, our life. He was the center of our universe, and we were the center of his universe, and I think that’s why it wasn’t even a question of what he was going to do, he was going to protect his dad. He was going to protect me.

Updated Oct. 6.

This past July, Federal Judge Esther Salas’s 20-year-old son, Daniel Anderl, was brutally killed by a disgruntled lawyer disguised as a FedEx driver. The murder occurred on the weekend of Daniel’s birthday weekend and gained nationwide attention.

On Tuesday, the district judge shared an emotional letter written to her late son.

While appearing on “Good Morning America,” Salas detailed the tragic death of her son, Daniel Anderl, and revealed that just days before his murder she wrote a letter which she had planned to one day give to him.

“I wanted him, when I was no longer on this earth, to read how I felt at critical moments in his life,” Salas explained. Sharing the contents of the letter which were written in a diary entry dated on July 13, Daniel’s 20th birthday and six days before his death, Salas read:

“Dear Daniel, Happy 20th birthday!!! I apologize for not writing in your journal since February, but truth be told, I haven’t had the heart to write an entry,” Salas shared before revealing that the coronavirus pandemic had kept her busy and from writing.

“The virus’s impact on this world has been devastating, and with each passing day I keep thinking things are going to get better but they don’t,” she wrote. “There is so much hatred in this world, we are more divided than ever before, and I have lost hope for humanity. As I write this entry, I am mindful that as your mother I should stress the positives and tease out the teachable moments. I should write an inspirational message that you can look to in the future for insight and guidance. I should be able to conjure up words of wisdom after deep reflection but I can’t. Instead, I will focus on the things that I pray will happen post this awful pandemic.”

“I pray that as human beings we will stop focusing on the things that divide us, and start cultivating those things that should unite us like God, protecting our planet, and loving one another,” Salas continued. “We should join forces in eradicating this virus, learning from our mistakes and sharing valuable resources to ensure that something like this never happens again.”

“I pray that people will open their hearts and minds to others with differing opinions,” she went onto explain. “In order for us to better understand each other, we have to be willing to listen and respect others who see things differently. I pray that society truly embraces core principles like compassion, patience, tolerance, and kindness.”

“Finally, I pray to God that we stop fighting,” Salas concluded. “Everyday we spend fighting is another day lost for humanity. We need to start loving each other for who we are and remember that we are blessed to be alive.”

In August, Judge Esther Salas made a call for better protection and the privacy of federal judges.

In a video posted to Youtube, Judge Salas explained the events that unfolded the day her son was mudered. The emotion grows as she talks about her son finally turning 20 and his excitement to be with his parents. She recalls her son saying that he just wanted to stay and talk to her where the doorbell rings.

Judge Salas remembers her son running up the stairs to answer the door, curious about who it could be. When the door opened, Judge Salas heard gunshots and someone screaming “no.” When she got to her family, she learned that someone dressed as a FedEx delivery person came to the door and opened fire. The son jumped in front of his dad to protect him and died from a bullet wound to the chest.

As a result of the killing, Judge Salas is asking for politicians to do something to protect federal judges. As it stands, the address and other personal information on federal judges are readily available online. Judge Salas wants a way for that information to be hidden from the public.

“At the moment there is nothing we can do to stop it, and that is unacceptable,” Judge Salas said in the video. “My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench.”

She added: “My family has experienced a pain that no one should ever have to endure. And I am here asking everyone to help me ensure that no one ever has to experience this kind of pain. We may not be able to stop something like this from happening again, but we can make it hard for those who target us to track us down.”

Judge Salas’ video is a hard video to watch as her raw emotion breaks through.

It is devastating to have to bury a child. It is something no parent should have to do. For Judge Salas, she is burying a child that was taken from her in a senseless act of violence perpetrated by a self-proclaimed anti-feminist attorney.

People on social media are standing with the judge in asking for better data protection to save lives.

Data issues have long plagued the Internet and activists want to change that. For many, the issue is protecting data from falling into the wrong hands or for companies, like Facebook, to profit off of our data. For Judge Salas, it is a matter of life or death to protect her colleagues on the bench and their families.

READ: The Government Accountability Office States That ICE And The FBI Are Using DMV Data To Track Undocumented Immigrants

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The Florida Law That Resulted In Trayvon Martin’s Death Is About To Be Expanded In A Big Way

Things That Matter

The Florida Law That Resulted In Trayvon Martin’s Death Is About To Be Expanded In A Big Way

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Florida already has one of the nation’s most far-reaching “Stand Your Ground” laws but the state’s governor wants to take it a step further: allow people to shoot looters and anyone suspected of rioting or being part of a mob.

DeSantis says the move is in response to an increase in crime across the state and to the ongoing nationwide protests that have resulted in occasional property damage and violence.

However, most experts agree that laws like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law should be weakens or eliminated, since evidence shows that these laws can actually lead to an increase in violence and homicides.

Florida’s governor wants to expand the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis (Republican) is looking to amend the state’s “stand your ground” law, to make it one of the nation’s broadest. His amendments to the legislation are part of his “anti-mob” legislation, which are supposed to target people accused of illegal acts during riots and looting.

But critics rightfully worry that expanding the already dangerous law, would empower people to use violence and deadly force during chaotic and tense confrontations at protests.

The timing is also suspicious, considering the move is coming as part of an aggressive agenda following months of large-scale racial justice protests across the country.

Under Florida’s current law “a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if … he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

DeSantis wants to expand this law to include “criminal mischief that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; arson that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; and any other felony.”

Democrats are already pushing back strongly against the proposed amendment.

Credit: Saul Loeb / Getty Images

Legislators, attorneys and others call DeSantis’ proposal “racist,” “dangerous” and “extreme.”

In a recent Miami Herald article, Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County County prosecutor who had handled “Stand Your Ground” cases said, “It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions.. It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”

In the same article, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, said the governor’s draft bill “sounds like an invitation to incite violence.”

The law gained national attention following the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Credit: Ted Soqui / Getty Images

In 2012, Trayvon Martin was killed by a man who claimed the “Stand Your Ground” defense and his story shocked the country. The 17-year-old teen was unarmed and chased by George Zimmerman which resulted in a physical altercation.

Although Martin was unarmed and not guilty of any crime – he was returning home from a quick walk to a convenience store – his killer was found not guilty thanks to the state’s strong “Stand Your Ground” law.

So-called ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws are becoming more common across the country.

Nearly three dozen states are “stand your ground” states, including 27 which have explicit laws saying so. They have been expanded over the past ten years as more states follow Florida’s lead.

A 2018 RAND Corporation review of existing research concluded that “there is moderate evidence that stand-your-ground laws may increase homicide rates and limited evidence that the laws increase firearm homicides in particular.” In 2019, RAND authors indicated additional evidence had appeared to reinforce their conclusions.

And although Florida’s legislature remains firmly in Republican control following this year’s election, it’s unclear whether DeSantis will find a sponsor for his proposed amendments.

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Emma González Is In A New Documentary About Gun Control Called ‘Us Kids’

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Emma González Is In A New Documentary About Gun Control Called ‘Us Kids’

ANGELA WEISS / Getty

Two years ago in 2018, American activist Emma Gonzalez marked the headline of every news organization. As a victim of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland Florida, Gonzalez garnered national attention on February 17, 2018, after giving an 11-minute speech at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In the days, weeks, months, and years since delivering her speech, Gonzalez has made waves with her activism.

Now, the activist who is now in college is the star of a documentary directed by Kim A. Snyder called Us Kids.

Us Kids, which received a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival this past January is available to be screened on the Alamo Drafthouse virtual screening platform.

Us Kids is available to be screen on Alamo on Demand on October 30.

The film follows the stories of the students behind Never Again MSD. The student-led organization is a group advocating for regulations that work to prevent gun violence and includes Latino activists like Emma González and Samantha Fuentes. Both teens are survivors of the shooting that took place Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florid where 17 students and staff members were killed by a gunman.

In a review about the film, Variety writes that it “primarily celebrates that resilient, focused energy from teenagers who proved perhaps surprisingly articulate as well as passionate in thrusting themselves into a politicized spotlight. It’s more interested in their personalities and personal experiences than in the specific political issues wrestled with. Like ‘Newtown,’ this sometimes results in a repetitious directorial expression of empathy, particularly in the realm of inspirational montages set to pop music. Still, the subjects are duly admirable for their poise and intelligence as Snyder’s camera follows them over 18 months, in which they go from being “normal-ass kids doing normal-ass things” to a high-profile movement’s leading spokespeople.”

The trailer for the documentary was released on Oct. 22 and introduces the survivors of the shooting.

Fuentes, who was an 18-year-old senior at the time of the shooting, speaks about her experience recalling that “I was thinking about how we were going to get out if he was going to come back, was I going to die.”

“As compelling as Hogg and González are (and as touching as their friendship is — they’re each other’s biggest boosters), it might’ve been nice if ‘Us Kids’ had itself strayed farther from the mainstream media narrative in emphasizing less-familiar faces. Considerable screen time is dedicated to Samantha Fuentes, who was hit by bullets but lived while close friend Nick Dworet died next to her,” Variety explains. “She provides a relatable perspective in being occasionally less-than-composed in the public glare (we see her upchuck at the podium a couple times). Still, there are peers frequently glimpsed in the background who never seem to get a word in, while Snyder keeps the established, semi-reluctant ‘stars’ front and center.”

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